Hasbro, the official toymaker for Star Wars, has approached Mattel, the company famous for its Barbie dolls, to discuss a potential merger, reports say. Sources claim that Hasbro intends to create a single large company with a portfolio of global brands such as Barbie, Hot Wheels and My Little Pony, through the deal.
This news comes a week after Barbie owner Mattel, giving in to years of criticism about the doll's looks, launched a new line of Barbies with different body types and skin tones. The merger talks were reportedly held at the end of 2015.
While the financial details of the potential merger are not known, it is understood that Hasbro has a market value of about $9.2bn (£6.3bn, €8.2bn), slightly lower than Mattel's $10.7bn. The talks come at a time when Mattel is losing ground to both Hasbro and Lego, Europe's biggest toymaker. Apart from owning the official right to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Hasbro is set to take over the rights to Disney's animated feature, Frozen, from Mattel later in the year.
This is not the first time these two companies have had discussions over a potential merger. Their first attempt was way back in 1996, which did not go through because Mattel had then withdrawn from the deal. The Barbie maker had then angrily blamed Hasbro for complicating the deal by making comments through the media.
John Amerman, the then chief executive at Mattel had communicated the anger through a letter to the then chairman at Hasbro, Alan Hassenfeld. The letter said, "You elected to take drastic steps, both politically and through the media, to greatly increase the difficulty of achieving a merger in a timely manner. Unfortunately, your 'scorched earth' campaign has created an intolerable climate."
While there has been no official statement on the potential merger talks by both Hasbro and Mattel, shares of both the companies saw an uptick in Thursday's (4 February) trading session. While Hasbro closed at $75.90, up 1.20%, Mattel closed at $32.29, up 1.67% on the Nasdaq.